Season 3, Episode 19
Date of airing: June 5, 2016 (Disney Channel)
Nielsen ratings information: 1.958 million viewers, 0.48 rating with Adults 18-49, 0.47 rating with Adults 18-34, 0.45 rating with Adults 25-54, 0.84 rating with Females 12-34
This was a very unusual episode for LIV AND MADDIE. One third of the episode was used for the Skyvolt season finale (seriously, seven minutes were spent on Skyvolt, a show-within-a-show), which had one particular visual effect that might have been pricey for the production, while an additional quarter of the episode was used for the high school sweetheart romance of Willow Cruz and Joey Rooney, who finally got together for six minutes and probably never again after. And still, this episode had enough story to keep one’s mind occupied: With Liv having to decide whether to go to California, Joey having to decide whether to follow his heart, and Maddie having to decide whether to so to SCSU or be coached by her father while also staying close to a college experience with her twin bestie, it almost seemed like a stacked-up episode, if there wouldn’t have been half of the episode spent on a date and on a show-within-a-show. Not even STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP had one third show-within-a-show, though I would take a hazarded guess and say that the episode “The Disaster Show” comes close to that, although I believe most of the episode was spent with dialogue scenes between the sketches of the show-within-the-show and backstage scenes.
Anyway, this was kind of an interesting episode. I was mesmerized during the seven minutes of Skyvolt, and when one scene of that show was done, I was surprised to see that there was another. Eventually I realized that the show-within-a-show (I should stop using that phrase) would get to its cliffhanger ending, and the viewers, as well as the Rooney family, would be watching and reacting to it afterwards, but the length of the Skyvolt bit in this episode was unreal and almost unheard of for a television show. Maybe there was not enough story for this episode? Maybe the writers planned from the beginning to have this episode end in an open fashion, so that the third season of LIV AND MADDIE would be more intriguing to the audience (and not end in a cliffhanger, like the previous season)? Maybe the writers only thought for one premise to be the topic of the episode (Joey and Willow), and decided to delay the rest until the season finale? Maybe Liv’s decision to quit her series and join her sister in college was supposed to be made harder after seven minutes of Skyvolt?
I did love the idea of the six-minute high school romance though. This should have been an SNL sketch at one point, and though I’m not aware of most of the history of SNL, I would be surprised if the show never had such a sketch during its 45-year-history, because it seems like such an obvious idea to bring to the screen. Especially the “Meeting the parents” segment was hilarious, and it could have been to die for if Karen and Pete had a five-second objection to Joey dating someone (since Joey is not known to be available for social interactions with people outside his family or Artie), just to end that segment with a hug. I also loved the entire premise, because it finally threw Joey and Willow together, and the two shared their first kiss, and … well, Joey is officially dating a girl now, or at least he was, although for only six minutes. Who would have thought that after sticking him into incredibly ridiculous stories for three seasons? I would almost wish for Willow and Joey to be romantically linked in the next season. I already know of the change of setting, so there wasn’t much for the writers to deal with to have Willow and Joey date for real in season four.
Meanwhile, the decision-making scenes were not the best. Liv was chewing on the thought of moving to California, and at the end Maddie was chewing on the thought whether to stay or go, because her original decision relied on Liv’s even earlier decision. At least the twins weren’t self-centered, though this (or the next) episode could have been the moment for one of them to take the necessary step and do something just for themselves and not with the other twin in the back of the mind. Liv wants to be Skyvolt, so she should have moved to California. Maddie wanted to be at SCSU, so she should have immediately taken the phone and accepted the scholarship (especially after Maddie told Liv to follow her heart — is this something Maddie was not ready to do herself just yet?). The fact that both twins were headed to California at the same time was a lucky coincidence and obviously the forced conflict of the narrative leading us to the next half hour that is also the season finale, but it’s also sort of inconsistent with how the characters really felt about their future.